In a distant age the pterodactyl flew, the Brachiosaurus trod and (according to my children) I was a child. And it was back in those dawning days that we consumed little cakes. No party table was complete without a stand of these delicate little paper-cased delights, smoothed over with silky icing and decorated in a very understated fashion with silver balls or sprinkles. And to us all, they were affectionately known as patty cakes.
We did know of cupcakes. That was the equivalent term our US cousins used, and we heard it bandied about often enough as we consumed our generous diet of American TV and story-books. Despite this, we continued to refer to ours as patty cakes and not much more was said about the matter until recent days.
In a juggernautish manner, cupcakes have stormed our cake world. In a speed that would have impressed Darwin, this evolutionary process saw the little patty cake forced to extinction as the lavish buttercream topped, supersized baked phenomenon, was naturally selected by our gluttonous appetites and now solely inhabits our bakery counters and benchtops. With all of that colour, whip and magnificence, how could it have been otherwise?
I do think there is something to be said about a nice little cake with a cup of tea. Similarly, in a sea of sugar-laden party treats, a small cake leaves room to be tempted by other celebration table goodies. So I bake patty cakes.
If you’re of similar eon or simply enjoy smaller treats, a batch is not difficult to prepare. For your basic cake mixture, use the one from this blog post. If you like shiny, firm icing purchase pure icing sugar rather than soft icing mixture. Measure out 150 grams and sift it. Add water, one teaspoonful at a time, until a nice spreading consistency it reached – avoid runny. Spread the icing across the cooled cake tops, and give them a token decoration. With the recent cupcake frenzy, there are now masses of decorative items now at your disposal.
Postscript: There is a small clue remaining, that the cupcake was once known to us as a patty – supermarket shelves across our land stock paper cases all clearly labelled – patty pans.
If you can find a recipe that allows you to switch the ingredients according to what you have, you prefer or is seasonal, then I’d say you have a keeper.
These little upside-down cakes fit that profile perfectly. Blueberries too pricey? Replace with strawberry halves. Don’t like chocolate (what!!!) then use this butter patty cake recipe instead. The bottom line is, you decide which fruit is going to feature and what flavour cake batter will be supporting it.
Apricot halves and peaches make a delicious base and as we have just launched into the stone fruit season, they are right at our fingertips. The tender baked fruit that becomes the topping of your cakes provides the moisture and sweetness that icing would normally account for.
For those who are explorers by nature, I’m sure you will come up with some startling combinations.
Over to you.
30g butter, melted
1 tbsp brown sugar
125g butter, softened
¾ cup caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
11/4 cups SR flour
1/3 cup cocoa
2/3 cup milk
- Distribute melted butter evenly between muffin tins. Sprinkle brown sugar over the base of each. Drop approximately seven blueberries into each hole.
- Cream the remaining butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Fold in the sifted flour and cocoa alternately with the milk until combined.
- Spoon over the top of the blueberries.
- Bake in a moderate oven 160°C for 20 minutes or until cooked when tested. Cool before turning out of tins.
Postscript: Packet cake mix has come a long way in recent times. If you need these babies in a hurry, complete the fruit step and spoon the packet mix over the top.
When life gives you roses – make rose petal cakes.
We are seriously in danger of disappearing into a cloud of rose petals here, as for some climatic/random reason this season has been a bumper one for rose blooming. Not complaining.
They are such perfect specimens to observe and there are only so many vases you can place around the home. Cakes seemed the obvious next choice. If you have the time, rose petals can be dipped or painted with egg white and coated in sugar. Left to dry for an afternoon, they will become frosty little treats to plant on your icing before it sets.
If, like me, you are impatient, fresh is fine but best to lay to one side of the plate before plunging in – mouth first.
125g softened butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups SR flour (sifted)
2/3 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Place patty cases into muffin or patty cake tins.
- Beat the butter and sugar with electric beater until light and creamy.
- Add vanilla and eggs and beat well.
- Gradually add flour and milk alternately and mix gently until smooth.
- Spoon into paper cases and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden on top. Cool on a wire rack.
- When completely cold, top with icing and a rose petal. Makes 12
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp softened butter
tiny drop of red food coloring
Sift icing sugar and add butter. Beat until smooth. Add the tiniest drop of food coloring for a really soft pink. If the mix is a little stiff, add a few drops of water for spreading consistency.